Dr. Jerob Leaper, BVSc, Hospital Director
In 2002 I received my B.S. in Biology from U.C. Irvine. During school, while working as a kennel attendant at a veterinary clinic, I met my wife Teresa. Following completion of school I worked as a laboratory technician in the endocrinology department for Quest Diagnostics for almost 2 years. I married Teresa in the summer of 2003, and whilst on our honeymoon, we fell in love with New Zealand and I made the life changing decision to move there and apply to become a Veterinarian. I was accepted into the AVMA accredited program at Massey University, in Palmerston North. I graduated in December 2008 and moved back to California to begin my career.
I started at Groveway Veterinary Hospital in Castro Valley, CA working as a full time associate veterinarian. Then in April 2012, along with a fellow veterinarian, we purchased Groveway Veterinary Hospital. For the next three years, I worked as the Clinical Director, managing upwards of 20 staff and dictating clinical/medical policy. In May of 2015 I made the difficult decision to leave California behind and make the jump to Kihei. It is always hard to leave behind a successful practice and many friends and colleagues worked with and met along the way. I just felt that Maui provided a better place to raise my two young daughters.
I currently live in Kihei with Teresa, my daughters Cailin and Amelia and our four dogs (German shorthaired pointer cross, a black Labrador and mastiff cross, an Anatolian/Great Pyrenees cross and a French Bulldog) and our four cats (1 Orange tabby cross, 1 British Blue cross, 1 Persian cross and 1 Tripod Tabby). In my spare time I enjoy spending quality time with my family and friends. Recently I have rekindled my passion for surfing, hiking and all the great outdoor activities that Maui has to offer. I am honored to have the blessing of Dr. Roger Kehler and his surviving family to carry on the rich history of Kihei Veterinary Clinic.
Dr. Jenny Li Hellsen, Veterinarian
Aloha, I have been with KVC since 2000. I was fortunate enough to have spent many years working beside our founder Dr. Roger Kehler. Although my education in Massachusetts provided me with her training and certification in traditional western medicine, I have dedicated my career to furthering my education and specialize in holistic treatment alternatives such as acupuncture, herbal medicine therapies and cold laser treatment. I strive to find the balance between traditional medicine and complementary holistic alternatives to create the best treatment plan for your pets health.
I live here on Maui with my husband Andy and three amazing children. I have two dogs (Sputnik and Aboo) four cats (Tabitha, Baby D, Tootsie and Emmet) and a beloved tortoise (Nui). Mahalo for trusting our team with your pets wellbeing.
Jessica Blaney, Director of Hospital Operations
Aloha, I am originally from Palmer, Alaska and moved to Maui about 4 years ago. I grew up in a very small town where everyone looked out for one another so I felt right at home here on Maui with our very similar cultures and lifestyle. I started my introduction into the field of veterinary medicine, working after school, for our local veterinary hospital at 16 years old and never looked back. I have worked in veterinary medicine for over 15 years now and have loved every second of it. I moved to Maui to work with Dr. Leaper in 2016 and spent two years working as the mobile veterinary hospital technician and manager. I made the difficult choice to move back to Alaska in 2018 to work a rotation in emergency and internal medicine before returning to KVC January 2020 as Director of Hospital Operations. Now I put my years of medical experience to use supporting our amazing team and the important work they do here at Kihei Vet Clinic.
Safron McElwain, CVT Veterinary Technician
Aloha! My name is Safron. I moved to Maui 7 years ago to escape the cold winters of the Rocky Mountains, where I grew up. After relocating to Santa Barbara, CA in 2005, I got my first job as a Veterinary Assistant and realized I had found my calling. I worked for 4 years as an assistant and desperately wanted to learn more. After relocating back to Colorado, I attended Colorado Mountain College and earned my A.A.S degree in Veterinary Technology. I have been pursuing my passion for helping animals ever since. I have been with Kihei Veterinary Clinic since 2016. I have tremendous love and dedication to the animals of our island and the KVC family. I feel so fortunate to be working, living, exploring, hiking, paddle boarding, camping, kayaking and snorkeling on these beautiful islands.
Karen Hannie, Direct Release Specialist
Karen Hannie is from Upstate NY and a proud Army veteran. She obtained her B.S. degree in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina and worked as an Animal Caretaker at the Riverbanks Zoo. She became board certified as a Licensed Veterinary Technician in 2002.
After moving to Maui with her wife in 2004, she continued to maintain the annual requirements needed to remain a Licensed Veterinary Technician. Karen believes it benefits the patients and their owners. Karen has 20 years of experience in Critical Care, Emergency Medicine, surgery, rehabilitation and most importantly, patient-owner awareness, education and building client relationships.
Karen experienced first-hand how stressful it can be to move to Hawaii with her pets. For the last 18 years, she has made it her mission to make the Direct Release program as simple and stress-free for families moving or traveling to Maui.
Karen is a diehard Seahawks fan, loves fishing & being out on the ocean. She and her wife feel blessed to call Maui their home.
Shalice Smirke, Receptionist
I was born in Southern California, but moved to Maui when I was just 5 years old. I was raised on Maui and have been here for over 25 years! I’ve always had a huge passion for animals and working at a Vet clinic was always a dream. I had the opportunity to work with Dr.Kehler for 3 years before his passing. My partner and I have been together for the last 9 years. We have three young boys together, ages 7, 2 and 1. We rescued the infamous Kiko from KVC and he continues to be a part of our Ohana. Aside from my time at KVC, I also help manage and operate Ka Oi Pool Maintenance. In my spare time I love going to the beach and spending time with my family.
Andre’a Torres, Veterinary Technician Assistant
Aloha, I was born and raised on Oahu but started my career as a veterinary assistant 20 years ago in Las Vegas. I have been with KVC for 6 years now working as a veterinary technician assistant to help the pets of Maui. I have years of experience owning birds and fish and love to bring that skill set and knowledge to pet parents. My husband and I have 3 dogs (Sasha, Josie and Papi) 2 cockatoos (Harley and Fiona) and many fish. In her spare time Andre’a is starting an aquaculture business called Maui’s Freshwater Gems, helps operate Torres Security, and loves fishing with her husband.
Kim Atkins, RVT Veterinary Technician
I came to Maui 11 years ago from the Reno/Tahoe area and instantly fell in love with the island and the culture. I have been a licensed veterinary technician since 1991. I started as a veterinary technician assistant in 1987 and quickly became passionate about the field of veterinary medicine. I have always loved and respected animals and their welfare. I am particularly passionate about veterinary dentistry and surgery. I have extensive experience in emergency care, specialty and general practice and find it very rewarding to be able to assist the community through educating them about animal health and wellness of their furry family members and caring for each pet like they are my own. Mahalo to the Maui community for allowing me to serve you and your pets.
Frank Aranda, Veterinary Technician Assistant
Aloha! I am from San Francisco where I volunteered for non-profits like the SPCA & Pets Unlimited while working as a Residential Community Director. I returned to my passion for animals full time, wearing several hats at Sonoma Veterinary Clinic while training as a veterinary technician assistant. Up until my move to Maui I was a caregiver for the terminally ill while also working full-time at Sonoma Veterinary Clinic. I spent 9 months at Maui Humane Society’s high-volume spay & neuter clinic and took part in many MASH events in addition to a daily routine of helping thousands of animals. Then I was asked to join the KVC team where I continue to strengthen my skills and learn new and valuable tools. I recently adopted a special needs dog, Strawberry Shortcake, who has stolen my heart! When not working hard at KVC I generally am taking care of foster animals, or at any of the many beaches here. My favorite escapes are the jungle and the ocean to soak up peaceful moments. I love my job here and am so proud to be a part of the KVC team.
Rachelle MacKenzie, Veterinary Technician Assistant
Lexi Justus, Receptionist
Hi! My name is Lexi Justus and I was born and raised here on Maui. I grew up in Keanae with 4 dogs and 5 cats that acted like my “four-legged siblings”. So animals have always been a big part of my life. I graduated in May of 2020 from Kihei Charter High School and was looking forward to college life but unfortunately COVID had other plans. Well when life closes one door it opens up a window, I am now living in Kihei and working with animals everyday! My pup and I enjoy being closer to the beach and sunbathing every chance we get.
Lyndsay Peterson, Veterinary Technician Assistant
Aloha! I was born in North Carolina and moved to Hawaii with my ohana when I was in the 5th grade. My dad is a (now retired) veterinarian so I grew up veterinary medicine and around all kinds of animals. I have had a passion for helping animals my whole life! I am currently enrolled in classes to become a certified veterinary technician and look forward to learning more to better take care of your fur babies.